Stoker is a British/American psychological thriller from South Korean director Park Chan-wook who is well known for the Vengeance trilogy that includes worldwide classic Oldboy. The story centres around India who’s grieving her fathers untimely death. When her uncle Charlie, whom she didn’t know existed, comes to stay she not only grows increasingly suspicious of his ulterior motives but becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
The most striking thing about Stoker is its quirky editing style. From start to finish it boasts a unique, quirky and very artistic editing style that flows smoothly and gives the film a very arty, stylish feel. At times this becomes a bit much however, and occasionally feels as though the editor is merely showing off their skills and trying to cram in as many stylish, fancy transitions and effects as possible. It’s difficult to just sit and enjoy the film when the editing is so in your face, but fortunately this only happens once or twice; the rest of the film, and its editing, is very stylish.
Mia Wasikowska‘s performance is fantastic and she seems to go from strength to strength in her acting. Throughout Stoker she’s pensive and mysterious, there’s a constant niggling feeling throughout the start of the film that she’s not quite as she seems and eventually the story unfolds with an exciting and unexpected climax. Her performance is a brilliant balance between the innocent grieving girl and the experienced, knowledgable young woman that she becomes towards the end. There are hints of both of these sides throughout the film which really adds to that niggling ‘there’s something more to this girl’ feeling.
The story is quite confusing and the film was originally marketed as a horror. The name Stoker conjures images of vampires, largely down to the fact that Bram Stoker is the genius behind Dracula, however the film is far from the creepy, dark horror that it was advertised to be. While a dark, quirky, stylish and brilliantly acted psychological thriller is a brilliant film for some, others might be disappointed by its lack of scares and its similarity to the drama/psychological thriller genre. It’s a stylish and interesting little film but the story feels lacking. You could be forgiving for expecting Uncle Charlie to suddenly be found hanging upside down from the bed post, or baring sharp fangs, and it feels disappointingly like its missing something. The editing is quirky and beautiful, the performances are great but all in all it feels like one great big vessel for a group of film-people to show off their skills and try to cram in as many fancy-pants techniques as possible. There’s a much bigger focus on style than there is on story.